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Windows Update Gets Big Investment

Microsoft is throwing big money at Windows Update, the company's infrastructure and technologies for distributing patches to its ubiquitous Windows software.

"I don't know if everyone understands how much we're investing in Windows Update and what a service it is. We've spent about $60 million on Windows Update," Jim Allchin, Microsoft group vice president for platforms, said during his keynote address on Tuesday at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Seattle.

The $60 million is a big chunk when you consider Microsoft's investment in its Trustworthy Computing initiative came to about $200 million by the time of the Windows Server 2003 launch. It's a slightly less stunning figure when you take into account Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates' recent claim that the company's total research and development budget is $6.8 billion.

In any event, Microsoft is working on Windows Update along several fronts. There's a new Windows Update V5 Release Candidate 1 that users of Windows XP Service Pack 2 Release Candidate 1 have been testing. Microsoft recently published critical updates for Windows XP SP2 RC1 partly in order to test the new Windows Update.

On another track, Windows Update Services, a follow-on to Software Update Services, is in beta testing as an add-on for Windows servers.

Microsoft is also developing a broader approach called Microsoft Update that will handle patches for Office and other programs in addition to patches for Windows.

Some money may need to go to infrastructure improvements in Microsoft's server farms, as well. Microsoft had problems handling the volume of user traffic trying to access the blockbuster, 14-vulnerability security bulletin MS04-011 on April 13.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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